Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque
Pasta salad is our favorite comfort food. Over the years I have made it about a zillion different ways and they were all yummy. To make pasta salad, you have to begin with pasta; Spiral pasta (fusilli) works well, as do bow-ties (farfalle), but this corkscrew pasta (cavatappi) caught my eye at the store so that is what I’ll be using this time. It is really important to only cook the pasta until it is just al dente. There is nothing worse than mushy pasta in a pasta salad or just mushy pasta in general.
I add the cheeses in last, along with delicate things like the marinated artichokes. In the picture above I have just added the pasta to the meat and veggies. Today’s pasta salad was an homage to an antipasto platter ( hard salami, mozzarella cheese, black olives, red peppers, marinated artichokes, etc.), but it is equally good made with grilled chicken and broccoli, ham chunks and pepper jack cheese, or tuna with cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes. The sky is the limit. Plus, pasta salad is a great meal for the hot, hot, dog days of summer. It can be prepared early (before it is too hot) and refrigerated. If you add enough goodies it becomes a one dish meal, nice and easy for dinner. Enjoy!
1 pound pasta of choice
veggies of choice;
artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, beans, mushrooms, olives (all kinds), onions (every type), fresh peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes (especially the grape and cherry tomatoes, halved), zucchini…
protein of choice;
grilled, fried, canned, baked, or leftover rotisserie chicken/ chunks of ham/ deli cold cuts (like hard salami), sliced/ tuna, crab, lobster, or other fish, flaked/leftovers of any kind-except maybe roast beef
cheese of choice;
Asiago, Cheddar, co-jack, pepper jack, swiss, mozzarella, etc.
Italian dressing of choice (we normally use Kraft Zesty Italian, but the marinated artichokes were in their own dressing and I just used it)
1. Cook the pasta al dente, drain, rinse it if you want, and cool.
2. Chop all veggies, protein, and cheese. Use your imagination to chop things in an interesting and appetizing way and not all the same (matchstick, slices, julienne, chunks, ,etc.)
3. Put the chopped goodies in a big bowl, add the cooled pasta. Add just enough dressing to keep the ingredients from sticking together. Don’t go overboard, you don’t want your pasta salad floating in dressing.
4. Add parmesan cheese. Start with about 1/2 cup and go from there ( I was a little heavy-handed with the parmesan cheese today).
5. Mix everything together and transfer mixture into a container for the fridge, or stand at the foot of the stairs and yell, “come and get it”